Venus Williams Reaches Dubai Semis

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(February 20, 2014)DUBAI – Venus Williams fought off a late charge to stop Flavia Pennetta to reach the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 7-5 win on Thursday.

The two-time former champion had to serve for the match twice. Williams at 5-4 could nor close out the match on her first match point and Pennetta eventually broke serve. Pennetta gave back the service break in the next game and Williams rallied from 0-40 on her serve to finally close out the match.

“She just keeps fighting. She stays relevant,” said Williams of the veteran Penetta. “That’s what she does really well. She stays in the point. I have to give her credit for that. I think I could have maybe made a couple more shots, but it’s not always easy against someone who competes as well as her.”

Williams evaluated her own performance: “I felt good.  You know, it was an adjustment playing someone like her.  Her game is different than (Ana) Ivanovic, so it was definitely an adjustment.  I have to be more patient; the points are going to be longer.  We have to be a little bit more measured.

“I think in the beginning of the match I wasn’t really on that mode, but as the match went on, then I started to kind of self‑correct a little bit.”

With Williams in the semifinals and her sister Serena on the other side of the draw, Venus was asked about a possible all-Williams final.

“I think that would be fantastic, you know, but we both have to get there,” Venus said . “I would like both of us to get there, so we’ll see.”

The last time Venus and Serena met in a final was back in 2009 when Serena defeated Venus in Doha in the WTA Year End Championship.

Venus Williams will play eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki who dominated Sorana Cirstea 6-1, 6-2.

Wozniacki in press

“That was good. That was really pleasing, and I always know that Sorana can be a tricky opponent,” said Wozniacki. “It was important for me not to let her back in the game, and I felt like I served well and I put the pressure on her and played the way I wanted to play today.”

“All credit to Caroline,” Cirstea said. “She played great today. I think she played one of the best matches I have ever played against her. Very solid. Quite aggressive from the start. She should definitely deserve this win. I didn’t really get a chance to get fully into the match.”


Wozniacki’s Streak Snapped, Kvitova Serves Her Way to Final

By Jack Cunniff

New Haven Open at Yale– Friday, August 24, 2012

Summary of Friday semifinal action at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven:


Semifinal: (7) Maria Kirilenko def. (3) Caroline Wozniacki, 7-5, ret.


The Caroline Wozniacki winning streak at the New Haven Open ended Friday, through a combination of Maria Kirilenko and an injury to her right knee.  Wozniacki, who had won 20 consecutive matches in New Haven and was undefeated lifetime in the tournament, was questionable for her semifinal after injuring the knee in yesterday’s quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova.  However, early reports indicated she had a successful practice in the morning, and would take the court for match.


The first set was high quality tennis, with both women combining for over 20 winners.  They held serve comfortably throughout the set, relying on the placement of their serves rather than power.  The first break points of the match didn’t occur until the eleventh game, with Wozniacki serving at 5-5.  Two down-the-line backhand winners for Kirilenko brought her to double break point at 15-40. Wozniacki fought off both break points, the first with an entertaining net exchange punctuated by an open-court volley winner by Wozniacki.  But a return of serve winner by Kirilenko gave her a third break opportunity, one that she would capitalize on.  Kirilenko held serve easily to win the first set, 7-5.


As it turned out, it would be the only set.  Wozniacki called for the trainer on the changeover. After having a brief examination, Wozniacki made the decision to retire from the match.  Following the match, Wozniacki was evasive in answering questions about the diagnosis of the injury, and would only offer that she felt the knee getting worse as play continued.  She hopes that with a few days of rest, she will recover and be ready for the U.S. Open next week.


Meanwhile, Kirilenko advances to her eleventh career final, her first on U.S. soil.  Regardless of the result of the final, she will reach a career high No. 12 in the rankings next week.


Semifinal: (2) Petra Kvitova def. (4) Sara Errani, 6-1, 6-3


Petra Kvitova picked up where she left off Thursday, imposing her daunting serve on an overmatched opponent.  And just as in the quarterfinals, her service statistics looked impeccable: eight aces, no double faults, and no break points.  In total, she lost only nine points in her eight service games.  Kvitova has certainly found her groove on serve.


Errani was a game competitor.  She tried to run down the Kvitova groundstrokes, and mix up the pace of the rallies.  She acknowledged afterwards the difficulty of the situation, deciding to attempt more powerful shots while risking errors, or trying to prolong points and let Kvitova make mistakes.  But with the Czech playing as well as she did, it’s not certain either strategy would have worked against her.


With Kvitova easily holding serve, she was able to take risks on Errani’s service games, and strike winners on her service returns.  She broke the Italian twice in each set, and easily advanced into her second final of 2012.



Around the Grounds – Friday August 24th:

Prior to tomorrow’s Singles Final, the Doubles Final will be held featuring the world No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams.  Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, the higher ranked and top-seeded doubles team, will battle the Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.  This is a rematch of the 2012 London Olympic semifinal which the Czechs won en route to a silver medal… It was a somber press conference for Caroline Wozniacki, being asked the details of her injury and it’s impact on her U.S. Open prospects, but she did manage a moment of levity.  When asked to look back at her last five years in New Haven and what the tournament has meant to her, Wozniacki laughed: “It sounds like I’m retiring.”… Maria Kirilenko was asked if her boyfriend Alex Ovechkin, left wing for the NHL Washington Capitals, would be in attendance for Saturday’s final, but she was coy in her response: “I don’t know. Can be.”… All three of Petra Kvitova’s New Haven Open matches have been played in the evening session.  When asked about her preference for day of night matches, she admitted that she had asked for night matches.  “In the night, it’s not as hot as during the day. I think tomorrow will be so –so. I hope it will be okay.”

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.


Radwanska Leads Player Field in New Haven

Wimbledon finalist and world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska leads four of the WTA top ten and 18 2012 Olympians in the player field for the 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series to be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester.

Radwanska, world No. 8 and four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, world No. 9 and French Open finalist Sara Errani and world No. 10 Marion Bartoli headline the 2012 field as the four players ranked in the WTA Top 10. Joining them are top-25 players Maria Kirilenko, Dominika Cibulkova, Kaia Kanepi, Flavia Pennetta, Andrea Petkovic, Nadia Petrova, Francesca Schiavone, Lucie Safarova and Zheng Jie as well as two-time Grand Slam Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Rising star Christina McHale will also be competing to be the first American since Lindsay Davenport in 2005 to lift the New Haven Open trophy. Rounding out the field are former world No. 5 and fan favorite Daniela Hantuchova, defending New Haven Open finalist Petra Cetkovska, 2012 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Tamira Paszek, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ekaterina Makarova and Mona Barthel.

All but two of the competitors of the 2012 New Haven Open have won a WTA title in their careers and boast an impressive 121 between them, an average of more than five per player. Leading the way is four-time defending New Haven Open champion Wozniacki, with 18 titles to her name, followed by Kuznetsova with 13 and Petrova and Medina Garrigues with 11 apiece.

“This year’s player field is one of the strongest we’ve had, and we still have four Wild Cards to be named,” said Worcester. “To have 18 Olympians playing in the New Haven Open at Yale is a testament to our internationally competitive field. Fans are in for a real treat from the get-go, with exciting matches between some of the world’s best players in store from the first round on.”

To celebrate 15 years of women’s tennis in New Haven, and for 15 days only, all middle-tier tickets will be on sale for $15 (which is up to a 66 percent discount for fans). Additionally, $2 of each ticket sold will be donated directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale New Haven. First Niagara will also make a matching donation of $1 per ticket sold (up to $5,000) to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center. This “15-Love” promotion will run for a limited time, July 11-26.

“First Niagara is pleased to be able to support the New Haven Open’s important ‘15-Love’ cause-related ticket promotion by offering a matching donation of up to $5,000,” said David Ring, President, New England Region and Head of Enterprise Banking at First Niagara Bank. “This donation is a testament to First Niagara’s strong commitment to this community and will hopefully further encourage fans to buy tickets now and support a great cause in Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale-New Haven.”

“The fight against breast cancer is something the New Haven Open puts among its top priorities,” said Worcester. “The ‘15-Love’ ticket promotion celebrates 15 years of women’s tennis in New Haven by offering a spectacular price to watch some of the world’s best tennis while contributing funds to Smilow Breast Center for cutting edge research as well as ensuring services for under-served women in our community.”

U.S. Olympian Varvara Lepchenko was on hand with Worcester and other Connecticut dignitaries including State Senator Toni Harp and State Representative Toni Walker in front of First Niagara Bank on Wednesday to help announce this new campaign. The native of Uzbekistan, who became a U.S. citizen in September of 2011 before reaching the fourth round of the 2012 French Open and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team, jogged on the famed CYBEX Pink Treadmill.

The CYBEX Pink Ribbon Run sponsored by Healthtrax returns to the New Haven Open this year and offers players, fans, sponsors and media the opportunity to walk or run on a special pink treadmill to raise funds for breast cancer. For every mile logged, donations will be made to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale-New Haven. In addition, the pink treadmill, which will be signed by the WTA players and celebrities, will be auctioned off after the New Haven Open and all proceeds will be donated to the Breast Center at Smilow.

Log on to www.newhavenopen.com for more information and to purchase tickets. Also, make sure to join New Haven Open on Facebook & Twitter for tournament updates, contests and more.


Wozniacki and Radwanska Commit to Play New Haven Open

Four-time champion and World No. 6 Caroline Wozniacki and World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska have committed to play the 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series to be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, it was announced on Thursday by Tournament Director Anne Worcester.

Wozniacki, who ended 2011 ranked No. 1 in the world, will make her
fifth consecutive appearance at the New Haven Open, where she will be
the four-time defending champion. The 21 year-old “Queen of New Haven”
is undefeated in Connecticut and in 2011 she stormed to the title as
the No. 1 seed without dropping a set. With a championship run in
2012, Wozniacki will surpass Venus Williams to become the outright
record-holder for consecutive and overall titles won at the New Haven
Open. She has an impressive 18 titles overall in her young career.

“I love playing the New Haven Open and being on the Yale campus, and
am hopeful that I can continue my winning streak there this August,”
said Wozniacki. “The fans in Connecticut have been amazing, and they
make the tournament feel like a home event for me. It’s definitely one
of my favorite tournaments and terrific preparation for the US Open.”

Joining Wozniacki is 2011 WTA “Fan Favorite” Agnieszka (Aga)
Radwanska. The 22 year-old native of Poland has had a fantastic start
to 2012, winning titles in Dubai and Miami and reaching a career-high
ranking of World No. 4. Last year in New Haven, she suffered an early
loss to a streaking Petra Cetkovska, who eventually reached the
finals. She has nine WTA titles in her career, but will look to make
that double digits with her fourth appearance in Connecticut.

“Adding two of the top six players in the world this early, one being
Caroline Wozniacki who has become the face of the New Haven Open over
the past four years, is thrilling,” said Worcester. “We are excited to
see if Caroline can make New Haven Open history with five consecutive
victories, but I am certain the competition will be tough as one of
her close friends, Aga Radwanska, is one of the hottest WTA players
right now.”

In addition to Wozniacki and Radwanska, rising American star Christina
McHale entered the New Haven Open just one week ago. The teenager from
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey has had a great start to 2012, recording
a win over reigning Wimbledon champion and World No. 3 Petra Kvitova,
amassing an undefeated record for the United States in Fed Cup play
and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 32 in the world.